Call to Action: Vote with your Fork!

Source

Oh dear, where to begin.

Surprise, surprise, a major retailer has sold out.  Or rather, their trying to cover their asses because so many of their products are probably already contaminated.  Because big organic (WF-style) is not all that different from regular farming (e.g. they still use pesticides, etc).

So here’s a brief history of food:

Monsato owns it.  That’s it.

They are a ginormous conglomerate that wants to genetically modify every crop despite the fact that we do not know the risks of consuming such crops.  They’ve ruined the lives and well being of millions of small farmers by forcing prices and subsidies to ridiculous levels so these families are forced to take huge lines of credit and sink into bankruptcy and ruin their land and etc.  They’ve ruined the land by pushing for regulation that supports monoculture (one crop grown, usually corn or soy)  rather than polyculture (multiple crops, rotated throughout).  They’ve ruined the lives of the communities surrounding such farms where the waste from their toxic sprays is contaminating water and soil and thus food.

Well Monsanto and the USDA who they (along with the cattle ranchers association and the like) have in their back pocket aka own because these corporations have tons of $$$$$$ to make sure policy decisions go in their favor.

Yes I sound like a petulant child.  You know what, you should too.

Let me re-frame this.  Did the bail-out piss you off?  Does the tax loophole for corporations piss you off?  Good, then we’re on the same team.

What people don’t always seem to realize is this: these are all the same damn issues, manifesting themselves in different ways with different masks and costumes.

So what can you do?

  • Step 1: Get angry.  You can no longer trust any food company to provide high quality, sustainable food produced in quality working conditions.
  • Step 2: Sign the petition.  This is the easy and takes two seconds.
  • Step 3: Educate yourself.  Read stuff by Michael Pollan, Mark Bittman (my new author crush), etc.
  • Step 4:  Think about your food choices.  Stop buying that crap.  Sign up for a CSA, grow your own herbs, go to the farmer’s market, shop at your local health food store.  Support companies who are a part of the Non-GMO Project (whose work I support despite what the first article says).

I recognize this might not be everyone’s cup of tea.  But fact of the matter is, we don’t have a choice anymore.  We inherited these issues, along with things like global warming, and its up to us to reverse the course and undo as much damage as possible.

I also realize that I might lose some readers for this post.  Its a risk I’m willing to take because unlike other things I feel passionately about (e.g. Passion), this is not something I am flexible on because these are issues that truly and deeply affect each and every person, present and future, in this country, regardless of gender/race/economic class.  Its about time we realized that.

Yoga/beauty/life,

Kait xo

Updated

As I’ve continued to explore these issues I’ve found more on the story.  Please continue educating yourselves with these stories about what this legislation means for you as a consumer of organic goods as well as more on Monsanto’s tactics (3rd article).

Vilsack caved on GM alfalfa so what’s the impact?

The decision was a stunning reversal of a more measured approach that Vilsack appeared to be taking in December, when the USDA talked about considering the impact of the GM crop on other sectors of agriculture. But that was before he faced an uproar by the GM industry and the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal for playing nice with organic farmers

USDA Disappoints: No Regulations on GM Alfalfa

The USDA had been considering two potential decisions on this issue – either full deregulation or deregulation with restrictions. The latter would have set rules to protect non-GE crops from contamination.

The GMO Battle: Does Whole Foods  Support Monsanto’s GM Alfalfa

Once a farmer begins using Monsanto seeds, they are essentially hooked for life. They cannot easily go back to using traditional methods because the cross-contamination of their seeds with those from Monsanto results in an infringement of the patent and trademark laws. Many farmers who have never even used Monsanto seeds have fallen victim to these laws due to the cross-pollination effect of wind, that occurs naturally.

xo

Don’t stop believin’

Cheesy title?  Yes.  Get over it.  You know you’ll be singing the song for the rest of the day.  You’re welcome.  😉

So why the cheese you might ask?  Simple reason: sticking to my guns has paid off.

The inflammation: practically gone.
The pain: ditto.

Full use of my hands hasn’t returned and, quite frankly, it might not ever.  My next hurdle is learning how to fully accept and incorporate the necessary modifications into my daily life.  And my daily future life which includes a whole lot of farming (I know, I keep hinting..I promise we’ll get there).

I still am going to explore the WHY behind this and do what I can to address that issue. In part I know it was a big old wake-up from the Universe.  It took a complete and total meltdown and the loss of the use of both of my hands for me to wake-up and learn to slow down, ask for what I need, open up about my fears, and be ok with making modifications aka going against the grain aka doing things my way.

I am no longer angry or stuck in the “why me?” mentality.  This is not to be confused with my scientific interest in the air behind the ear as they say.  A recent post from Lindsay helped with this greatly.  She pointed out that we all have jars, some of which are large and some of which are small.  Every time we eat crap (aka the Standard American Diet), we add a marble to the jar.  (Note: She talked about it with relation to veganism but I’m not going to go there today for reasons I promise to post about soon.)  Anyway, my jar filled up quickly.  Knee problems at 13 and 18, hypothyroidism at 21, exercise-induced asthma, this hand shit, etc.

So I have two contributors, things that I easily can control by heeding what I’ve learned.  But my IPL tells me that isn’t it.  So I’ll keep learning more, eating more greens, and avoiding goitrogens as much as possible.

Surgery is off the menu at this point and I’m happy that in my darkest hours I didn’t just give in.  In 10 years, who knows what will happen.  Additionally, other issues have popped up, specifically ulnar nerve stuff (fixed with lifestyle modification) and new pain with use (I tried one down dog and apparently shouldn’t have been in pain for 3 days after :().  But overall I’m moving in the pain-free direction.  I look back at August/September of last year and wonder how I survived day in and day out.  I’ve come so far both mentally and physically.

Now I know that my practice might never be the same.  My life definitely won’t return to its old baseline (when do our lives ever though?).  And I will never go back to the way I was because I have learned so much and know there is more yet to discover.  For now, though, I’m relishing in the sheer joy of the return of my long-lost bestie, HOPE.

And for some more cheese, cue Mr. Buckley.

 

Yoga/beauty/HEALING/life,

Kait xo

Project: Food Budget, Week 17

Don’t know what this is?  Click here…or check out all my P:FB posts using the tag cloud/categories.

You all ready to do this?  Alright then…let’s go.  Tehehe 😉

Tip of the Week

I’m going to try and keep this tip a bit shorter this week since I also have a fantabulous company to profile.

This week I encourage you to try out your local ethnic store, be it Asian, Indian, or Mediterranean.  There’s a fantastic Mediterranean  marketplace in Worcester that I get all of my spices, dried beans, grains, and flours from (unless, of course, they’re on sale elsewhere).   Everything is beyond reasonably priced and the quality is superior.  There’s a great selection of wines and other ethnic foods (including Asian ones, randomly) along with prepared products, a deli, etc.  In general, prices at ethnic restaurants are cheaper than those at your supermarket, especially for the aforementioned products.  I know they might seem intimidating and I don’t venture regularly to the Indian or Asian stores (ok I’m terrified of the Asian marketplace primarily because I’m afraid I won’t be able to understand them…yes, I know, its ridiculous) but Ed Hyder’s: its my secret weapon for budgeting, supporting local business, and finding delicious new products at a great price!

Weekly Menu

*Rather than planning specific meals for specific days, I cook in bulk once or twice a week and eat leftovers for both lunch and dinner.  I also eat gleefully devour a green smoothie every morning for breakfast.

*Test recipes for the third Happy Herbivore cookbook are denoted with a * and can include neither a name nor a detailed description.

Zinger Smoothie (spinach, arugula, banana, milk, pumpkin, almond butter) + failed Hot Pumpkin Breakfast Quinoa (I tried to sub 2 flax egg)

Arugula, carrot, and scallion salad with rice* (phone pic…on a rainy day)

Apple Sage Chickpea Burgers

Winter Salad*

Tomato lentils (own made-up recipe) + Chard*

 

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My Kind of Winter Wonderland

View from my deck aka life is good. 🙂

Ingredient Intros: Flax and Chia

Since last week’s P:FB post, I’ve had some questions about flaxseed and its counterpart, chia.  Here is a brief intro to both products.  Feel free to comment or e-mail with any questions!  And if there is ever an ingredient I post that you aren’t sure of, feel free to ask!

FLAX

Whole and Ground Flaxseed

Source

You can purchase flax either whole or ground up (flaxseed meal/ ground flax). Ideally you purchase it whole and grind just as much as you need each day but until I move in with beau and can take over his coffee grinder, I buy it ground. Its best to store it in the fridge.

Flax has a great balance of Omega-3s:6s, is fairly low in fat, and has fiber and protein. Its a seed (obviously) so its a whole food, plant-based source of all those amazing things.

So what can you do with it? Well the basic Green Monster (greenmonstermovement.com) calls for its (1Tbsp flax, 2 c spinach, 1 c non-dairy milk, 1 frozen banana) and I add it it all my smoothies. I also will pour (as in layer it on thiiiiiiick) onto cereal, oatmeal, etc. It has a nutty, earthy flavor that some people don’t love but I’ve become obsessed with. *You can’t taste it at all in the smoothie.

You can also make a flax “egg” (2Tbsp flax + 3Tbsp warm water) to replace chicken eggs in baking. And there are a million other uses…especially raw desserts and raw protein bars (Mama Pea has a recipe for Kind bars that has flax + almonds + apricots + liquid sweetener).

*WHEW*

CHIA

Source

Chia is also a seed but its a little higher in fat than flax AND is a complete protein (meaning it provides all your amino acids). Chia seeds can absorb up to 10x their volume so its PERFECT for Overnight Oats (Ohsheglows.com, then go to her recipage and search for the basic one). Some people will just mix it with water and swig it back as a protein-filled fuel before working out.

Dr. Oz made it a “wonder drug” to help with weight loss and blah blah but only because it has a good balance of nutrients to make you feel full (plus that expansion-with-liquid thing) but to me, its just another great whole food.  Personally, I like putting it + flax on top of my cereal. There’s also chia puddings and the like that are super delish.

You can bake with chia as well but usually you want to go for a recipe that calls for it rather than trying to adjust it because it does suck up so much.

Sometimes I’ll put chia into my smoothie but you have to be careful or else you end up with tapioca-pudding consistency. Still delish, but not ideal for grab-and-go.

That’s it!

Looking forward to introducing you to many more fantabulous ingredients!

Yoga/beauty/life,

Kait xo

The Power of Yoga

Yoga has been in the news a lot lately.  Its been controversial, said to cause injury, etc etc etc.

I’m not here to tell you that it doesn’t.  It’s an activity, one that, fed by the media, has adopted to the US desire to go harder/faster/stronger and disregard alignment and the ideas on which yoga was founded: finding your edge, playing with the edge, and knowing when to back off.  Of course it comes with risk, especially if you are not taught, right from the start, proper form and alignment and breath and thought!

I can speak to all of these lessons in a very personal way. 

It’s why I abhor Bikram, a practice where students are encouraged to push until it hurts.  There is strain and exertion but there should never be pain.  It’s also why I love my studio, where the teachers all talk about alignment, about pushing yourself but not too hard, about checking your ego at the door, and about the beauty of modifying.

I love yoga because it provides me a modicum of sanity in my otherwise crazy life.  I am calmer, more patient, and more aware.

Case in point: my response to Hilary Rubin’s latest e-mail, asking that we e-mail her our fears.

“I fear that I am not worthy, that I will fail myself as I have so many times in the past, and that I will let down/abandon those who have helped me so much.  I fear not being in control, not having plan, and not knowing what is coming next.  I fear that I will not be healed despite the efforts I am taking and the work I am doing, that my absolute need for health insurance will blind me.  I fear that I do not know enough to “start” a biz, or rather expand the business I already have to include additional services.

 My heart feels tight even as I write this, constricted, my breath comes shortened.  (5 minutes of heart openers and ujjayi breath help)  I am unwilling to quit my job because of these fears. I am unwilling to take the next step because I am not sure it is what I want.

 I’m working on it, cultivating mindfulness and awareness and belief in myself, my body’s innate power to heal.  I am researching and educating and trying to be ok with having no plan but having a small nest egg, someone who loves me, and opportunities to train.”

I literally stopped mid-writing to pound out five minutes of gentle  back bends,  heart openers, and loving poses.  Low cobra, child’s pose, hero, embryo, wild thing. I breathed deep, encouraged space behind my heart and gained the strength I needed to finish the e-mail.

Yoga is so much more than the poses you assume on your mat.  If you allow it to, it fills every part of your life, making you a more patient and kind person.  It allows you to be aware of your feelings, examine why you are feeling that way, and breathe through it.  It teaches you to confront challenge with calmness and breath rather than anger and anxiety.

It sounds like a lot to some people, but eventually…you just start to practice in your everyday life.

I am more than my body.  Yoga is more than poses.  Together, we are unstoppable.

Yoga/beauty/enlightenment,

Kait xo

Project: Food Budget, Week 16

Don’t know what this is?  Click here…or check out all my P:FB posts using the tag cloud/categories.

Hi all!  I hope the past week has treated you well and you are ready for another peek into my sometimes awesome food budgeting skills!

Tip of the Week

Welp…I decided that since I was already doing this in my “intros,” I would make it a separate section of my posts.  I really, really like lists, dontcha know? 😉

This week I’m to talk about a commonly overlooked way to get the most product for your buck: the per quantity (or unit) price.

Let’s start off with an example, shall we?  Note: this will also give you a glimpse at the process I use to find deals.  One product you need is soy sauce.  You sit down with your coupons and the sales circulars for your favorite or most frequented stores (although some couponers will go to many different stores just for the sales, I generally don’t).  It isn’t on sale anywhere but you do have the following:

  • Brand X: $1.00/1 manufacturer’s coupon
  • Brand Y: $1.00/2 manufacturer’s coupon and two $0.55/1 store coupons (at a store where stacking is allowed)

Brand X comes in several size bottles (5, 10, and 20 oz) whereas Brand Y only comes in a 10 oz bottle.  Which one is the cheapest?  Which coupon will give you the best deal?  Well let’s take a look.

Brand X prices

  • 5 oz, $1.89 – $1.00 off = $0.89
  • 10 oz, $2.49 – $1.00 off = $1.49
  • 20oz, $3.79 – $1.00 off = $2.79

Brand Y price

  • 10 oz, $3.49 x 2 bottles – $1.00 off/2 – 2($0.55 off) = $4.88 = $2.44/bottle

Now we know how much each bottle is going to cost after our coupons.  As someone who is budgeting, you might see the low total cost of the 5oz bottle of Brand X and jump on it.  However, you’d need two 5 oz bottles to get the same amount of sauce as one 10oz bottle and so on.  This is why the unit price is so helpful.  The only way to know which product is actually the least expensive is to look at the per unit price.  In this case, we can look at $/oz (or per roll, lb, gallon, etc).

  • $0.89/5oz = $0.18/oz
  • $1.49/10oz = $0.15/oz
  • $2.79/20oz = $0.14/oz
  • $2.44/10oz = $0.24/oz

We now can see a couple of things.  Firstly, the 20oz bottle is actually offering the best deal even though you are paying more upfront. This is a fairly standard practice and the reason big box stores like Costco and BJs are so popular.  It is also opposite from the way many of us likely think.  That is, if it costs less overall it costs less.  As I’ve shown above, that just isn’t true!

Secondly, having one or more coupons for a product does not guarantee that you are getting the best price.  Knowing your prices is ridiculously important because it is so easy to get sucked into the “have-coupon-must-use” mentality also known as the “it’s-always-cheaper-with-a-coupon” idea.  Sometimes the price of something at Trader Joe’s is still cheaper despite the fact that it isn’t on sale and I don’t have a coupon for it!  To learn prices, you can use couponing match-up sites or just spend ridiculous amounts of some time getting to know the costs of your frequently purchased items at different stores.  If you have a Wegmans near you, you can look up store-specific prices on their website.

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Wednesday Revelations: Quiet Sobs

I wrote this post over Christmas.  As many of you know, my grandmother had been rushed to the hospital the Wednesday before the holiday and my whole family was on edge.  I have yet to post it because much of the emotion was still so raw.  But I am working on moving things out now, have had many a cathartic releases since this post and have helped the individual mentioned receive the proper care, the care I could no longer give, the care that continues to drain my life force every time we interact.  Lissa wrote about this today but I had already reached the same conclusion: I must do me first.  I must put my needs above those of others so that I, in turn, may better serve them.  That is part of the reason I write, to fill me and, hopefully, inspire you.  With love, gratitude, and appreciation, I give you my heart.  Thank you for caring for it.

I have a confession to make: when I was younger I used to envy those who could cry silently.

You see…I was a loud crier.  In fact, crying isn’t even the right term…heaving, breathless, snotty, red-faced sobber better describes me.  If something inspired tears in public, it was all over.  Sad movies, a moving sermon in church, nevermind a funeral…it was all over.  And yet as I looked around me I noticed that the adults could all cry silently, barely taking in a breath.  And I admired that skill, wondered how the managed to acquire it and make crying look so, well, proper and neat.

As we all know, I am neither of those two things.

And yet, now as an adult I find myself quiet sobbing more and more.  And I hate it.  I realize now that quiet sobbing is not something to be envied or admired but rather just another example of how we shove our emotions away in an attempt to soothe our wounds and/or please and protect those around us.

I quietly sobbed as I wrote this post, the previous situation inspiring it.  I didn’t want to alarm her because I knew that she would jump into caring mode, worrying more about me than about her situation, the conversation surrounding which led to the aforementioned sobbing.

I resented it.   I resented her for caring too much while simultaneously hurting for her, feeling everything she was masking with anger. and caring and avoidance.

You see the thing about quiet sobs is that they choke you.  They aren’t cathartic like the loud heaving sobs because you aren’t breathing.  You aren’t releasing anything but rather holding it all in, leaving you feeling more troubled, more hurt, and more (insert emotion here).

In my opinion, there’s nothing adult about quiet sobs.  As adults we are expected to be responsible, courageous even.  We’re supposed to stand up for what we believe in, for ourselves, and for those around us.  Quiet sobs do none of that.  They conform to a society that tells us expressing emotions = weakness when, in fact, in our emotions lie our greatest power.  Quiet sobs avoid the problem at hand, pushing it deeper inside of us so that we can hide from it a little bit longer.  They are weak and as cowardly as things get.

I’m done with them.  I’m done with hiding my emotions so that I don’t hurt others more by reflecting back what they are truly, madly, deeply feeling but afraid of or unable to show.  I’m done with the quiet sobs.  Give me the heaving, the breathlessness, and the boogers…give me the coughing and the shaking and the clinging to anything as if it were the only thing keeping me alive.  Give me the passion.  Without it, our lives are just a shadow of what they could be.

Universe I am your vessel.  Abide in me.

Yoga/beauty/life,

Kait xo